Fractured Bones Breakthrough


HOUSTON, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A procedure that has troubled doctors for years may have a solution, thanks to some unlikely inventors. Five undergraduate students at Rice University created a medical device that allows doctors to fix fractured bones in less time, using fewer x-rays.

Ashvin K. Dewan, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital has been there. A patient is in the ER. And he’s called in to fix their broken femur. It’s a rush against time: “So the stress is building.”

(Read Full Interview)

But when it comes to a long bone surgery, time isn’t on his side. The surgery involves placing a rod in the patients leg and securing the rod through a hole at the bottom. That means drilling blind through hard bone.

“It’s kind of like threading a needle with thread, but the only differences you’re trying to thread the needle from 50 feet away,” said Dr. Dewan.

Currently doctors use a series of x-rays to help them find the hole in the rod but it’s a time-consuming process.

Dr. Dewan said, “As I’m taking these multiple x-rays the pressure is mounting.”

It exposes patients and staff to more radiation. And then there’s the risk of missing.

“I was just like there needs to be a better way to do this,” Dr. Dewan said.

So Dr. Dewan turned to an unlikely group: five undergraduate students at his alma mater, Rice University.

“It was many, many weeks of getting better and better and better,” said Ian Frankel, a Rice University Senior and Mechanical Engineering Major.

The students invented a device that locates the hole in the rod by detecting magnetic fields.

Dr. Dewan believes it could shorten the process by 60 to 80 percent saving valuable time.

When it matters most.

Dr. Dewan said, “So I think that’s a substantial improvement in the existing process and I think it really could benefit the patient.”

Two of the students will continue developing their device after graduation. They hope to apply for FDA approval after that.

Contributors to this news report include: Breanna Molloy, Field Producer; Wladimir Moquete, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4608

BACKGROUND: The femur is the only bone located within the thigh. It is also not only the longest, but strongest bone in human body making it the hardest bone to break. This massive bone begins at the hip and extends down to the knee and features the head, medial and lateral condyles, patellar surface, medial and lateral epicondyles, and greater and lesser trochanters. These features are all important factors that help the leg move on a daily basis. The femur is so hard to break because it can resist forces of 1,800 to 2,500 pounds.


SURGERY: The current process to repair a broken femur is with a rod that is inserted inside the bone to realign the broken fragment. Ashvin K. Dewan, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital explains that with modern technology this surgery can now be done with small incisions to insert the rod. The process to get the screws through little holes through both the bone and rod is what makes this such a daunting task to doctors like Dewan. “You’re trying to thread the needle from 50 feet away, so in order to accomplish that, currently what we do is we use multiple x rays to try to visualize this 3D structure and the orientation of the screw holes in the bone and all the structures. This process can take several photographs with the X-ray. It can result in a lot of delays on the surgical table,” said Dr. Dewan.  The longer the process, the higher the chances for complications for patients on the operating table.

(Source: Ashvin K. Dewan, MD)

NEW RESEARCH: Dr. Dewan used to get frustrated with taking care of fractured long bones. With his engineering and medical background, he thought there had to be a better way so he got together with young students and put together an engineering design team. “What the engineering design team did here is they developed a way to quickly find that needle hole within the patient’s leg and give some real-time feedback to help us quickly thread that needle and quickly put that screw through the bone through the hole in the rod without having to expose the patient to several x rays,” said Dr. Dewan. “It means less risk of complications and less time in the operating room where they may be exposed to hazardous anesthesia. Also, less radiation for them. I think at the end of the day; it can hopefully ultimately secure a quicker and faster recovery from surgery with less invasive techniques.”

(Source: Ashvin K. Dewan, MD)


Mike Williams


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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Ashvin K. Dewan, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon

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